What is an ecosystemic perspective?
From a biological perspective, an ecosystem describes a view that parts of nature integrate into each other at various levels. Parts of nature are not completely separate entities but are related to each other in one form or another.
An ecosystem is formed by the interaction of a community of organisms within their physical environment. The interaction may be biological, physical, psychic or all. Thus, ecosystemic thinking has a relational context with an awareness of interconnectedness between organisms.
An ecosystemic awareness is not new. This thinking [and living] has been common in China at least 1400 years ago with Fa-tsang a commonly referred thinker in this regard amongst others (Cook, 1977). It has been present in and around India well over 2000 years ago. Thus, this thinking or more correctly, this epistemology (the way we know what we know) has been available since early times.
What then is ecosystemic psychology?
There are many definitions of ‘psychology’. Most do agree that psychology refers to the science or analysis of mental life. Thus, ecosystemic-psychology could be described as psychology in context. For example, a set of traffic lights on your busy street corner has an obvious function. This same set of traffic lights in the middle of a desert is not obvious and may be absurd. Thus, context is integral in psychology. Biological, physical, and unconscious connections are also context, thus ecological thinking also takes heed of this. A person lives in an environment, is subject to physical, biological and unconscious influence, all of which relate to the ecology of this person.
If the context is critical to psychology (and survival) then how is this context studied?
What are cybernetics?
The study of communication systems and of system control in animals and machines. Cybernetics is the study of how organisms (or machines) interface with each other. A focus on systems is central to cybernetics. In terms of people, communication is a core area of interest in cybernetics. Terms such as systemic psychology, or systems theory have been used to describe this way of viewing the environment.
Cybernetics can be viewed [or experienced] in all aspects of our environment and does not need to be “found”. It can easily be viewed when the observer has the capacity to understand/experience systemic processes.
Is cybernetics only confined to psychology?
Cybernetic principles can be and have been applied to many fields. The engineering field has been using cybernetic thinking extensively. Applications such as the generation of electricity including the interconnectivity of many electrical systems rely on systemic thought. Military equipment including self-correcting missiles too use cybernetic methods. Computer programming and artificial intelligence make use of cybernetic principles.
A well known cyberneticist is Gregory Bateson who applied systemic principles to linguistics, anthropology and social science. Cybernetics may be viewed in the physics world, the biological world, the mental world, and/or the combination of all domains.
What are cybernetics of cybernetics or alternatively referred to as second-order cybernetics?
In attempting to define second-order cybernetics I will be negating the definition by the very attempt at trying to define it.
In first order cybernetics there is still reference to an outside observer who may be seen as outside of the system. For example, in terms of a therapeutic psychology context, the therapist may work with a family and view it as a system but still believe that they (the therapist) is outside of the family system in terms of the relationship. Thus, there is still a cybernetic approach as communication systems are studied in the family, but from the view of an independent observing body. In terms of an engineering context, a design engineer team designs a nuclear power station. The design team are outside of their design. The design may rely on cybernetic principles but the team are not part of the control system of the nuclear power plant and they can be seen to be functioning independently of the nuclear power plant’s operation.
Is it possible to be independent of what one sees? Can the observing body be separate from that to which they observe? Do our observations and perceptual awareness arise from outside of our neurology; inside our neurology; or both? Do we all have the same neurological footprint, or “neuro-print”.
What we say (unless we are lying) reflects what we live, not what happens from the perspective of an independent observer (Marurana & Varela, 1987:231).
How is constructivism related to the field of ecosystemic psychology?
Through living we independently and communally construct our reality. People continually revise and update their own constructs. People behave according to how they construe the world around themselves (Kelly, 1963).
Language can be a barrier to learning and understanding, thus this website tries to use everyday examples as a tool to explain ecosystemic thinking. The essays section has short essays that may assist.
Last updated 16 May 2017